Anna’s HummingbirdsBy Ellen Lambeth; photos by Beth Kingsley Hawkins
There’s a cold spring snow here in the valley. But that doesn’t keep this tough, tiny bird from starting her family.
Ranger Rick magazine: We’re on assignment in the beautiful red rocks region of Arizona to meet Jill, an Anna’s hummingbird—and new mom. Jill, would you tell our readers about your family experience?
Jill Hummer: Sure. First of all, a heavy snow fell just as my eggs were hatching! Lucky for me, though, a big branch above my nest worked as a roof. I also stayed put most of that time to keep my chicks underneath me warm and dry.
RR: And who is your handsome friend in the photo? We don’t mean to be rude, but he looks a lot flashier than you.
JH: That’s my mate, Ross. His flashy feathers are what first caught my eye. He also has a lovely song. And you should have seen the amazing sky dance he performed just for me! But he’s gone now. It’s my job alone to raise the kids. And it’s a good thing that I’m not as brightly colored as he is. The less I’m noticed by hungry predators, the safer my family is.
RR: What made you choose this spot for your nest? It’s in a cottonwood tree, right?
JH: Yes. This cottonwood has some woodpecker holes tapped into its trunk. When sap flows from the holes, I can zip down for a sweet treat. People around here have hummingbird feeders in their yards, too. That’s so thoughtful, right? And as the weather warms up, more nectar-filled flowers open and there are bugs to catch for the kids. Plus, I have such an awesome view!
RR: Tell us about your nest. It’s really hard to see from afar. But a closer look shows that it must’ve taken some special talent to build.
JH: Oh, it’s just a natural hummingbird talent. I gathered bits of plant stuff to make the nest soft and warm. And I used spider silk to make everything stick together. The silk also makes the nest stretchy so it can “grow” with my growing chicks. The last thing I did was stick bits of green lichen on the outside. I think it helps to camouflage the nest.
RR: It makes it look pretty, too! And how did you get that leaf sunshade to grow over the nest like that?
JH: (laughing): That wasn’t planned—it just sort of happened. Cute, though, huh?
RR: So, then you laid a couple of really tiny eggs?
JH: Well, not so tiny to ME!
RR: It must’ve been exciting when they finally hatched.
JH: Yes! After a couple of weeks, Garrett and then Isabella hatched. I stayed busy, busy, busy, keeping them fed.
RR: But now look at them. Both are learning how to fly and to live on their own. You must be proud!
JH: A little worn out, but, yes, very proud indeed!
RR: Thank you so much for your time today, Jill. Ranger Rick wishes you all the best!